Wiggins becoming elite 3-point threat amid breakout season

/ by Grant Liffmann
Presented By Alaska Airlines

The Warriors pulled off potentially their two best wins of the year last week, beating the Suns in Phoenix and the Jazz in Utah, despite missing some of their best players.

By defeating arguably the second and third best teams in the Western Conference in this fashion, the Warriors have yet again sent a statement to the NBA that not only are they a championship contender, but they also might very well be the early favorite with the impending return of Klay Thompson.

Here are some notes and observations about the last week of action:

1) Kevon Looney is as solid as ever

Despite the Warriors almost always electing to play a "small-ball" type lineup with Draymond Green at center in a time of need, they have been getting increasingly productive minutes out of starting center Kevon Looney.

Over the first 24 games of the season, Looney was putting together a reasonable slash line of 5.2 points per game, on 52 percent shooting to go with 6.3 rebounds and 1.1 assists, all in just under 20 minutes of action. More importantly, his consistent and strong defensive presence in the paint helped the Warriors maintain the best defensive unit in the league, and he has been one of the better offensive rebounders in the NBA as well.

Over the last 11 games of the season, however, Looney has started to find his groove on offense. In a little over 23 minutes per game, Looney is averaging 7.6 points on 60 percent shooting, and has more than doubled his assists per game to 2.5.  He even set a new career-high in assists in a game with six dimes against Utah on Saturday.


With James Wiseman still expected to be out for a few weeks at the minimum, the Warriors are benefitting from Looney's improving all-around game.

2) Gary Payton II continues to impress

The Warriors' roster has been depleted the last couple of weeks due to COVID-19, so the team had to turn to players like Gary Payton II to step into an increased role to stay afloat. Rather than just survive, the team continued to roll along, partly due to Payton's impressive play.

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Over the last six games, Payton II averaged 14 points per game in just under 27 minutes of action. He has remained an elite defender and rebounder from the guard position, grabbing six rebounds per game over that stretch. He also is starting to stripe it consistently from deep, making nine of his last 18 attempts from long-range. 

GP2 has done it all for the Warriors this season, and there is no reason to expect that to change. He is the real deal.

3) Andrew Wiggins is becoming an elite threat from deep

As the All-Star push for Andrew Wiggins continues to heat up, Wiggins is also on his season-long heater from deep. 

Wiggins is now ninth in the NBA in 3-point shooting, making 43.4 percent of his attempts. Over his last 15 games, which included a quick trip to the health and safety protocols, Wiggins is shooting a sensational 53.5 percent from long-range, on nearly six attempts per game. Ever since the game against Minnesota 21 games ago, Wiggins is shooting an outstanding 48 percent from deep.

Wiggins has changed his shot selection this season, emphasizing his great efficiency off catch-and-shoot shots, rather than off the dribble. With a disciplined approach to his long-range shooting, Wiggins has skyrocketed his impact on the court this season.

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